Logo Title Quebec Reading Connection

School’s First Day of School

Rex, Adam (Author)
Robinson, Christian (Illustrator)
Macmillan 2016. 36 pages
First published: 2016
ISBN: 9781596439641 (hardcover)
Original language: English
Book type: Picture Book

Text Elements:

character, dialogue, point of view, setting

Award

E.B. White Read-Aloud Honor Book – 2017

Reading Range

 
Cycle
Elementary
Secondary
 
1
2
3
1
2
ELA
K
1
2
3
4
5
6
1
2
3
4
5
ESL
1
2
3
4
5
6
1
2
3
4
5
ESL Intensive & Enriched
5
6
1
2
3
4
5

Description:

Meet Frederick Douglass—the new school in town. “Soon, the teachers will come, and then you’ll be filled with children,” says the janitor, buffing the floors. But the school has first-day jitters and feels overwhelmed when the kids arrive: “They got everywhere. They opened and closed all his doors and lockers, and drank water from his fountains, and played on his jungle gym.” Much to Frederick Douglass’ dismay, some of the kids weren’t happy about the situation either: “‘This place stinks,’ said one, and the school gasped.”

This quirky tale, told from the uncommon viewpoint of a school, will have readers chuckling from cover to cover. Bright illustrations made with acrylic paint and collage techniques are inclusive, presenting children of different skin colours as well as a girl in a wheelchair. Naive-looking cut-outs featuring lots of primary colours give the pictures a childlike feel, accentuating the school’s own innocence.

Readers with first-day jitters will feel their fears melt thanks to this book’s balance of funny yet friendly scenes, like the one where the school gets back at a bad-mouthing boy through the water fountain: “Later he squirted the puffy-haired kid in the face, then felt bad about it afterward.” Like the kids, the school has feelings that can be hurt, and occasionally acts out, but by the end of day one, everyone is on friendly terms. Frederick Douglass asks the janitor: “Do you think you could invite everyone to come back tomorrow?”

  •  

    Discuss how you prepare for the first day of school. How do you feel on the days before school starts? What do you do to get ready?

  •  How do you think the children in the story are feeling? As you read, discuss what they might be thinking or saying.
  •  

    If you could design a brand new school, what features would you include? How would it be the same as or different from your school or the one in the book? Make a diagram of your school.

  •  

    If your school could talk, what would it say? Take a picture of your school and add speech bubbles to show what it might be thinking or saying.

  •  

    Discuss how you prepare for your first day of school. How do you feel on the days before school starts? What do you do to get ready?

  •  

    Compare how you and the school get ready for the first day. Use a graphic organizer to show your findings.

  •  

    Dramatize this story with your own school in mind. Imagine a conversation between the school, the janitor and the secretary before the first day.

  •  

    Take photos over the first days of school and use them in a presentation about the people, places and special features in your school.

  • To use creativity
  • To use information
  • Citizenship and Community Life
  • Personal and Career Planning
  • Drama
  • Visual Arts